Oceans are a global reservoir of greenhouse gases, estimated to account for 20–40% of the post-industrial sink for anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2). However, quantifying the exchange of gases such as CO2, methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) between the ocean and atmosphere is a major challenge.
Understanding how the ocean’s organic skin layer modulates this exchange is critical to estimate the intrinsic oceanic sinks and sources of these key greenhouse gases both now and in the future.
Organic substances in the skin layer, known as surfactants, span across traditional operational definitions and are derived from multiple sources undergoing biotic and abiotic transformations along the land-ocean continuum.
This project will investigate a land-ocean transect from South America toward the African Continent to investigate organic matter control of air-water gas exchange.
Central to this work is the application of new technologies, using novel in-situ sensor platforms and advanced geochemical characterisation techniques.
This new and unique data will be incorporated into hydrological and gas flux models to examine spatial and temporal effects of surfactant suppression of gas exchange – both now and in the future.